In a way, Canadian culture can be summarized by the country’s two favorite foods: maple syrup and poutine.
Like Canada itself, maple syrup can trace its origins to indigenous ingenuity. The Algonquins were probably the first to tap trees for the sinzibuckwud (roughly translated, “drawn from wood”) they used in cooking and spiritual ceremonies. The arrival of European colonials helped to industrialize the syrup-making process, but it didn’t dull the region’s love of working in the Great Outdoors. Today, many Canadians celebrate spring in “sugar shacks” stationed across the country; maple syrup is readily available in stores, but the residents of this active earthy nation prefer to draw their own sweet tree sap while communing with nature.
Poutine, a distinctly French dish, represents the other half of Canadian culture: the tastes and innovations of European colonials. This sinful, gooey treat -- a pile of french fries drowned in heavy gravy and farm-fresh cheese curds -- originated in Quebec, and quickly became popular in Montreal and its outskirts. Many restaurants put their own unique touches on the dish, adding foie gras and caviar to pricier variations, or including a dollop of guacamole or pico de gallo for a south-of-the-border flavor in the Great White North. Poutine, like all of French Canada, offers an unusual flavor -- one that, once sampled, is simply irresistible.